Harley Quinn’s hotpants may pave the way to DC’s most feminist comic book movie yet

Borys Kit must have known it”s almost my birthday, because he got me an early present when he broke the news today that Warner Bros. is developing a Harley Quinn movie for Margot Robbie.

It does not surprise me that they are moving quickly to nail down an ongoing relationship with Robbie, because everything I”ve heard about Suicide Squad from people working on and around the movie is that she absolutely owns the movie. I”ve been asked about the differences between my reporting on the reshoots for the film and Devin Faraci”s reporting, and I think we”re not really reporting different things. He said he heard the reshoots were to make the film funnier, saying every joke in the original cut had already been used in the trailer. What I heard was that the additional photography was a result of Warner telling director David Ayer “we want more of what”s working,” and that meant, in large part, more Harley Quinn.

I love seeing how excited Paul Dini has been about everything released so far, because Dini is the proud papa of this character. His reaction to the film is one of the ones I care about, because he”s been so vocal about how much he”s enjoyed watching Harley evolve from her origins on Batman: The Animated Series, and unlike much of the general Batman lore, Harley can be traced to one particular creator. She is one of the great late additions to the overall world, and seeing that she has leapt out of her first live-action team film in a way that already has the studio working on her next adventure really doesn”t surprise me.

It”s not just Harley, though… it”s Margot Robbie as Harley that has me interested. Robbie does meticulous character work in her films, and she makes fairly ferocious choices. This is one of those moments where the right star at the right time collided with the right role, and it gives the studio lots of options in terms of storytelling. Robbie has been vocal about wanting to produce and develop her own material, which is the only way the system is really going to change. If it”s important to Warner Bros to make Robbie happy and it”s important to her to tell stories that present a smart and under-represented woman”s perspective, then those are the stories that are going to get told. That”s how it works. And it sounds like the project would also feature characters like Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, and if there”s any justice, then the secret female writer on the film is Laeta Kalogridis, who was hamstrung when she tried to do right by some of the same characters in a disastrous TV effort.

According to Borys, the project evolved as Robbie was doing her reading to prepare to play Harley. She realized there”s this great rich roster of DC women characters, and she hired the writer to help craft a film built around them. It”s a smart idea, and it may help cushion the blow if Wonder Woman is as troubled a production as current buzz suggests. So many people I know are genuinely anxious about Wonder Woman because of what it represents more than any particular interest in the actual story. They need for that film to work because they don”t want to give any excuse to anyone who would say “women shouldn”t be making superhero movies.” I think it”s obvious at this point that anyone who says that is an idiot, and clearly wrong, and it”s simply a matter of time until that is disproven in a hugely commercial way, but I understand the anxiety that gets attached to anything that is attempting to buck the status quo like this. This Harley Quinn project sounds like a really clever way into making a film that is definitely driven by a desire to shake things up, and I”m definitely encouraged by how confident Warner is that Harley Quinn is going to be embraced by audiences when they meet her later this year.

Suicide Squad is in theaters August 5, 2016.